Tue, 10 March 2020
(Jer.18:18-20; Ps.31:5-6,14-17; Mt.20:17-28)
“Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?”
Do you know what He asks, brothers and sisters? And do you know where it leads?
In our gospel today, Jesus is very deliberate in His instruction to His apostles. As He starts out “to go up to Jerusalem,” where the chief priests and scribes “will condemn Him to death” and the Romans crucify Him, He takes “the Twelve aside on the road” to speak clearly to them of the fate which awaits Him. (So objective are His words that He refers to Himself in the third person.) Of course, the apostles are yet far from understanding His message, as shown by their soon dissembling into jealous indignation regarding the question of the power and importance of each. And the Lord must teach them again that He has come “to give His own life as a ransom for many”; He “has come, not to be served by others, but to serve,” and that those who “aspire to [the] greatness” that is His must necessarily “serve the needs of all.”
We know that Peter is the first among equals “for whom it has been reserved by [the] Father,” as the Lord has indicated earlier, and not James or John – though both of these shall have prominent place in drinking of the cup of Christ: James as the first apostle martyred and John, the beloved, whose martyrdom shall be white, coming in the endurance of a long life – but all of us who seek to follow Jesus indeed share in the selfsame cross, and so shall receive of the selfsame blessings of Him who is raised up “on the third day.” All are called to drink of the cup of suffering and service in Jesus’ stead. We must be clear on this essential point of faith.
And does not Jeremiah’s persecution at the hands of the citizens of Jerusalem show that the cross of Christ extends even to the time before He had come in the flesh? Do not the words spoken against the prophet: “Let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word,” echo exactly the plottings of the Pharisees against Jesus, whom they repeatedly sought to entrap? And all this though He does “speak in their behalf, to turn away [the Father’s] wrath from them.” And David in our psalm chants the same refrain: “They consult together against me, plotting to take my life.”
Brothers and sisters, as it was for David and Jeremiah and Jesus, following in the ways of the Lord will bring us persecution. You may well ask, Must good be repaid with evil? but the Lord will answer, “Let it be for now.” For “from the clutches of [our] enemies and [our] persecutors” He rescues those who trust in Him. Take heart that the humbled shall be exalted as you drink deeply of His cup.
O LORD, though good be repaid with evil,
we shall rise on the third day
if we remain united to the sacrifice of your Son.
YHWH, though persecutions come, as they must, we trust ourselves into your hands knowing that your protection is with us, knowing that as your Son was raised on the third day, our suffering shall soon come to an end and we stand with you in your kingdom. Give us faith and strength in your abiding presence, despite the whisperings of the crowd.
The people plotted to take the life of your prophets and your Son. A pit is dug for all your faithful, LORD. But that pit is shallow as this passing world; only your eternity remains. And so, let us not fear as we drink the cup Jesus offers us, the cup He Himself drank upon the Cross; for as we lay down our lives in this world, sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, so we shall be blessed to know the glory to which you call all your faithful servants.
Our trust is in you, O LORD, for you are our God. Save us from the snares of the devil.